Tag Archives: structure

Learn to Write By Reading: Scene Structure

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

Successful writers say it all the time: To be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. So we challenge you to read more and to read outside of your comfort zone.

This month, find the underlying scene structure in the current book you’re reading. Good writers keep readers turning the pages by crafting one scene that builds on the next in an inevitable, but surprising way. As you read this month, make note of patterns you see from scene to scene so you can identify what keeps you interested in the story and what makes you want to skip ahead. Below are some books we recommend, but feel free to chime in and offer other options to our readers. Then stay tuned for some practical prompts based on our Reading Challenge that you can apply to your own writing.

Alicia: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Laura: The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-banks by E. Lockhart

Megan: Arcadia by Lain Pears

Naomi: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Stacey: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Organizing the Headache: Tips for Writing a Multi-POV Novel

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

When I first began my novel, I wrote scenes and jotted down notes as they came to me, no rhyme or reason as I’ve noted before. And while this freestyle writing habit birthed some very creative ideas, I often found contradictions in plot lines and would have to spend time fixing and readjusting the whole story. This stole time from plowing ahead on my first draft.

After Stacey raved about John Truby’s book, The Anatomy of Story, I took a step back and did what “normal” writers probably do: I organized and planned. Continue reading

Practical Prompt 4/27/16: Non-Linear Plots Part 3

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

For our April “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books in which the author used a non-linear plot structure. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.

 

Decide how to let the reader know when your story is transitioning from one time period to another. Techniques could include using datelines as chapter headings or using a trigger specific to your story world. That trigger could be anything from an object that causes a character to remember past events to a portal that physically carries a character into another timeline, depending on the nature of your story. Don’t settle for the first technique that comes to mind. Sift through at least half a dozen to discover a truly fresh concept that will set your story apart.

Practical Prompt 4/20/16: Non-Linear Plots Part 2

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

For our April “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books in which the author used a non-linear plot structure. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.

In a non-linear plot, chronological causation doesn’t determine the sequence of the narrative. Look at the book you read and determine what the author used, instead of time, as the causational chain. Brainstorm other elements that could be used to link one scene or segment to the next in your story. A linking element might be a character, a given setting, an inanimate object or maybe an event. Have fun as you play with the possibilities.

Practical Prompt 4/13/16: Non-Linear Plots Part 1

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

For our April “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books in which the author used a non-linear plot structure. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.

Decide if re-ordering the sequence of scenes in your story would build the tension and drama better than using a linear approach. Notecards can be a fun way to test out this idea. Using one notecard per scene, write the title of each scene, along with a brief description of the scene’s major action, on the cards. Now lay the notecards out on your desk—or floor—arranging them based on increasing tension, rather than a linear progression. Can you make your story’s arc more dramatic that way? If the answer is yes, then a non-linear plot structure might be a better choice for your story.